My recent provocative proposal to have the folks from the Rocket Market run the business side of the Main Market Food Co-op received as strong a reaction as any recent post in memory. Between the two sites there were over a dozen comments and the reactions keep coming. Here is a compilation of some of the responses and ideas;
"...What I feel we need is a BULK FOOD store for Eastern Wa. and No. Idaho. No frills."
"...What's really needed is a place to process and sell local fresh meats. We have no market for this in Spokane. If they can't figure how to do it, lease the kitchen to someone like Jeremy Hansen at Sante' who knows what to do with fresh local meat."
"...I think something that would help is adjusting their hours. Being downtown, they have the potential to attract a lot of people that work downtown. I have wanted to go in several times on my way to work, but they don't open until late, like 10 or something...Slashing prices also makes it much more attractive to me. It was the most expensive store in town, so I still usually chose Fresh Abundance, or even Huckleberries in a pinch (Rocket Market is too far away for me, and unfortunately I have yet to make a visit). It would be less expensive if I became a member, but I can't afford their sky-high membership rates (another reason I chose Fresh Abundance)."
"...I appreciate the innovative architecture of the Main Market. It's great to have such progressive environmental pioneers in our area. One last note: The co-op in Bozeman, MT is a great store they might want to model themselves after."
"...ALL the co-ops I've been to weren't housed in glitzy buildings complete with pricey rooftop greenhouses. They found places with extremely low rents, hired minimal but dedicated staffs and worked tirelessly in other ways to KEEP THEIR PRICES THE LOWEST POSSIBLE!"
"...Most co-ops I've seen are pretty nice and relatively expensive - Missoula, Bozeman, Bellingham… I hate to say it but maybe we're more of a 'Jack's Thriftstore' type of town."
"...As far as prices in general, yes, certain items are going to be pricey. I don't buy those things. There are fabulous deals to be had in the bulk and produce sections. If you are willing to learn how to cook and take the time to do so, you can eat local and organic and affordably all at the same time."
Thanks for all the great input. I've received word from the Co-op board that they have reviewed all the comments and will discuss them at their next board meeting. However the board chooses to move forward, the key to future success is their responsiveness to the demands of the community, and they can't be responsive unless there is something to respond to. I've heard it said, "We get the government we deserve." Maybe the same can be said for the Main Market, "Spokane gets the food co-op it deserves." If we're not willing to speak up and participate to shape a truly viable co-op then we will get the co-op we deserve, which could be no Co-op at all.
I've received a back channel response from an employee of the co-op who is very excited about the changes they are making. I have offered them the opportunity to write a guest post to share the vision for Main Market 2.0. That offer is open to the Co-op board as well. Stay tuned.